As Scott Pruitt takes over as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, it's clearer than ever that our federal decisionmakers won't be stepping up to protect communities — or our food system — from pesticides anytime soon. It's that much more important therefore for state and local leaders to do their part. Here in Minnesota, decisionmakers are beginning some important steps to protect pollinators from pesticides, and we're fighting to make those changes powerful models for the rest of the country.
For months, all eyes have been on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s treaty lands, where the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) was charted to go under the Missouri River — undermining the sovereignty of the tribe and threatening the drinking water of 18 million people.
On Sunday, the water protectors at Standing Rock won a major victory: the Army Corps of Engineers denied the permit to drill under the Missouri River.
Families across the country are worried about McDonald’s, for more reasons than one. Because McDonald’s is such a huge player in our food system, the decisions the company makes — from marketing, to sourcing, to wages — have a ripple effect. This year, families who are affected by McDonald’s practices are speaking up together as part of a Toxic Taters week of action. The core message? Families deserve better.
Last Friday, a small crowd gathered in the agriculture building at the Minnesota State Fair. Beekeepers, entomologists, reporters, farmers and pollinator advocates circled around a small podium, waiting for Commissioner of Agriculture Dave Frederickson and Governor Mark Dayton to speak. The crowd wasn't disappointed. In a short press conference, Frederickson and Gov. Dayton announced new rules to restrict the use of bee-harming pesticides — and make the state a national leader in protecting pollinators.
Early this month, California health officials declared Syngenta's flagship herbicide atrazine a reproductive toxicant, adding it to the Prop 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or reproductive harm.
Long before legislators filed back to the Minnesota Capitol this spring, political analysts were predicting that not much progress would be made in this year’s legislative session. With split control of the legislature and a short eleven weeks to get their work done, folks across the political spectrum anticipated gridlock. So as the dust settles after the end of session this week, how did things shake out for food and pesticide policy here in Minnesota?
No surprise, the session had its share of ups and downs overall.
What do you call it when the nation’s largest potato company, with strong ties to the pesticide industry, digs in its deep pockets to dodge accountability for its impacts on local communities? Here at PAN we call it “corporate capture” — the outsize influence that pesticide companies and other corporate powerholders in our food system have over the agencies that are meant to regulate them.
Earlier this week, a top researcher for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) filed a complaint alleging that the agency retaliated against him for his research on bee-harming neonicotinoid pesticides — and for blowing the whistle on USDA interference with his research.
Last Tuesday at lunchtime, I stood on the sidewalk outside a McDonald’s in St. Paul, facing the busy traffic on University Avenue with a colorful sign that said “Stop the Drift.” I was with a group of other supporters of the Toxic Taters Coalition: students, parents and community members who made time in their day to stand in solidarity with rural communities combatting pesticide drift.
Crop dusters flying overhead, irrigators pumping, and chemical odors in the air. For people who live near RD Offutt’s pesticide-intensive potato fields in Minnesota, these are characteristics of summertime, as much as canoe rides across the lake or picking fresh vegetables from the garden.